An image recurs throughout The Master: a ship’s wake, white and blue water churning as the camera — really the mind’s eye of the dissolute Freddie Quell — stares not exactly into the past, but into the creation of the past. He fixates at the roil and the churn, staring at nothing rather than directly examine the choices and impulses that created him.
Freddie is an animal; or a sensualist, to be more generous. He does what he feels like doing, and what he feels is visible in every line of his face, and every glint of his wary, shaded eyes. He likes to drink, and he likes to fuck, and he likes to pretend that none of it really matters, and that his impulses have never cost him anything. As Freddie, Joaquin Phoenix channels every bit of his own individual oddness and intensity to create a character that is whole, and unique. Phoenix is an incandescent screen presence.
The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s sixth feature film, is a portrait of Freddie as one half of a whole. It is not a conventional narrative. Such as it is, the plot is barely more than an outline. Designed with sublime attention to detail by regular David Lynch and Terrence Malick collaborator Jack Fisk; scored with nervy yet sweeping themes by Jonny Greenwood; and photographed with exquisite tenderness by Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master is the rare modern film that feels like the product of old studio craftsmanship.
In moments, Anderson’s new work can be maddening, dull, even vacuous. But subsequent moments can be quietly provocative as the film tries to understand friendships, and relationships that trade in power, and even the nature of faith. The tentative plot is a boon. Free of responsibilities to any standard story structure, Anderson’s characters can circle and dance around one another without concerns about resolving dangling threads. The Master is mesmerizing, and beautiful. Read More »
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After what feels like years of speculation and waiting, it is exciting that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest film, The Master, opens in only a few weeks. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix in a widely praised performance as an ex-Navy man who falls under the spell of the “master” of the title, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Here’s the last trailer for The Master before that imminent opening, and it features a good amount of new footage. If nothing else, this will give you a great idea of the visual splendor on display — and the film has been on the receiving end of great notes for its look, especially when seen in 70mm — and also of the force of the performances within. Read More »
We’d heard a few years ago that George Clooney wanted to direct a screen version of the play Farragut North, and there’s a new report that suggests he’s going to do it at last. And possibly with a hell of a cast: Chris Pine, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti may all sign up for a February shoot. Read More »
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Universal has released a new trailer for Charlie Wilson’s War, which is directed by Mike Nichols (Closer, The Graduate, The Birdcage) and stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Om Puri, Jud Tylor and Nazanin Boniadi. Based on George Crile’s book about the CIA’s largest and most successful covert CIA operation, War follows a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s (Hanks) who teamed with a rogue CIA operative (Hoffman), to manipulate Congress, the CIA and a other foreign governments in order to assist the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s.
I’ve heard that Phillip Seymour Hoffman will get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this one. And it looks great, and has some big names, but the real question is: Will people buy tickets to another war film? Sure, this isn’t about the Iraq war, it’s set almost 30 years ago, but the box office (and buzz coming out of the Toronto Film Festival) suggests that people aren’t interesting in another war film.
Check out the new trailer after the jump.
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